Ultimate Popsugar Reading Challenge discussion

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2016 Challenge prompts > A book about a culture you're unfamiliar with

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message 1: by Juanita (new)

Juanita (juanitav) | 723 comments I think we can have a lot of fun with this prompt. I read all of Jhumpa Lahiri's books last year. A few years ago, I discovered Louise Erdrich and delved into the contemporary Native American experience. This is another prompt that would allow fiction or non-fiction.


message 2: by Sara (new)

Sara | 1508 comments I thought about the Aztec series, but I think those are too intense for an HSP like me. I'm going to attempt Kristin Lavransdatter, but I had better start soon!


message 3: by Tara (new)

Tara Bates | 1008 comments I loved a complicated kindness which is about a small Mennonite community in Manitoba


message 4: by Megan (new)

Megan (mghrt06) | 540 comments I think I am going to use A Thousand Splendid Suns, but going to look at everyone elses suggestions too.


message 5: by Sara (new)

Sara | 1508 comments The Kite Runner would also work (although personally I didn't like it very much - the main character was kinda blah, but it did open my eyes about a culture I know little about).

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban would be another good one.


message 6: by Tara (new)

Tara Bates | 1008 comments I felt the same about he kite runner, nice to see I'm not the only one who didn't love that book!'


message 7: by Nadine in NY (new)

Nadine in NY Jones | 5913 comments Mod
I'm not quite sure what I'm going to read for this one. I like Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche a lot so I might read something by her that I haven't read yet. Or maybe Sherman Alexie's Part Time Indian book (not having read that, I'm not really sure if it qualifies), or maybe something else entirely. I'm keeping my options open!


message 8: by Megan (new)

Megan (megabou) | 64 comments Memoirs of a Geisha would be a good book for this prompt. I read it in 2015 and absolutely loved it!


message 9: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) Sara wrote: "The Kite Runner would also work (although personally I didn't like it very much - the main character was kinda blah, but it did open my eyes about a culture I know little about).

[boo..."


I agree! I much preferred [book:A Thousand Splendid Suns|128029]


message 10: by Monica (new)

Monica (booksarelove) | 113 comments I'm thinking of reading Siddhartha, which is about ancient India.


message 11: by Alysha (new)

Alysha (alyshanhk22) Megan wrote: "Memoirs of a Geisha would be a good book for this prompt. I read it in 2015 and absolutely loved it!"

That's the book I decided to go with :)


message 12: by Fannie (new)

Fannie D'Ascola | 418 comments Megan wrote: "Memoirs of a Geisha would be a good book for this prompt. I read it in 2015 and absolutely loved it!"

It's on my list of possibilities as well. Or I'm thinkong about Allah is not Obliged or anything in Easter Island.


message 13: by Wendy (new)

Wendy | 32 comments Megan wrote: "Memoirs of a Geisha would be a good book for this prompt. I read it in 2015 and absolutely loved it!"

Memoirs of a Geisha was great!

I'm thinking of going with a different Asian option (China) and reading something by Lisa See.


message 14: by Tara (new)

Tara Bates | 1008 comments Snow flower and the secret fan is a beautiful story


message 15: by Taylor (new)

Taylor  Prescott | 6 comments I recommend Snowflower and the Secret Fan, Memoirs of a Geisha, Shanghai Girls, or Reading Lolita in Terhan. Any suggestions for India themed books? I have read Siddhartha but I'm not as familiar with that culture.


message 16: by Tara (new)

Tara Bates | 1008 comments I really loved the secret daughter and a thousand splendid suns, kite runner is middle eastern (so is a thousand splendid suns) but I didn't like it as much. I loved infidel though, it's a memoir about a girl who fled Afghanistan when the taliban took over essentially.


message 17: by Tara (new)

Tara Bates | 1008 comments Also for a kind of sub "culture" Moloka'i by Alan Brennert is set on that Hawaiian island when it was a leper colony and is a pretty fascinating look at the way the residents created their own community.


message 18: by Monica (new)

Monica (booksarelove) | 113 comments For those of you interested in a book set in India, here's a list of Rudyard Kipling's books.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudyard...

While most of the books are books of short stories, that should be okay, because the PopSugar challenge is to find a book, not a novel, about a culture you're unfamiliar with.

If you can't find anything there that you like, then go to wikipedia.com and look for Category: Novels set in India


message 19: by Juanita (last edited Dec 30, 2015 09:40AM) (new)

Juanita (juanitav) | 723 comments If you're interested in India, any Jhumpa Lahiri book will work. My favorite is Interpreter of Maladies, which is a collection of great short stories. It also won the Pulitzer the year it was published.

It is a very fast read and very compelling. Most of the stories take place in the U.S. but are about Indian immigrants to the U.S.

Another choice, this one nonfiction, is Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo. She is a journalist and wrote the stories of many people living in a slum. The story reads as a novel but it is nonfiction.


message 20: by Melody (new)

Melody | 203 comments Taylor wrote: "I recommend Snowflower and the Secret Fan, Memoirs of a Geisha, Shanghai Girls, or Reading Lolita in Terhan. Any suggestions for India themed books? I have read Siddhartha but I'm not as familiar w..."

It's about Bangladesh instead of India, but I read Brick Lane by Monica Ali several years ago and it was utterly fantastic! It's about a young Bangladeshi girl who gets an arranged marriage to an older Bangladeshi man who has immigrated to London and the book is set between her day to day life in the UK in the Bangladeshi/Indian/Pakistani immigrant community and flashbacks to her life growing up in Bangladesh. It's like if Jhumpa Lahiri adapted Ackerman's Jeanne Dielman into a Ishiguro-esque literary romance novel.


message 21: by Taylor (new)

Taylor  Prescott | 6 comments Thank you all for the suggestions!


message 22: by Nadine in NY (new)

Nadine in NY Jones | 5913 comments Mod
For a book set in India, I really enjoyed The God of Small Things.


Thegirlintheafternoon I'm using Stacy Schiff's The Witches: Salem, 1692 for this task - I don't know much about the culture of the Puritans.


message 24: by Tara (new)

Tara Bates | 1008 comments I read the crucible and another book about witches in late 1600's Salem this year and that is on my tbr list for sure!


message 25: by Nadine in NY (last edited Dec 31, 2015 11:31AM) (new)

Nadine in NY Jones | 5913 comments Mod
Witches is on the NYT bext seller list, too! I am thinking about reading it for the best seller category.


message 26: by Amanda (new)

Amanda (ohmandy70) I've been looking forward to reading about how the Navajo were such an important part of WWII and will read Code Talker for this one.


message 27: by Arka (new)

Arka Duttagupta | 25 comments Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
by Grace Lin Goodreads tags it in Cultural > China and


message 28: by Heidi (new)

Heidi Potenza | 6 comments The Sleepwalkers Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob is excellent! I read it last year and while it does take place in the USA - some of it takes place in India - the family cultures and customs are all from India as well as the food. I learned so much about traditions and customs and also about assimilating into America. Really a good read!


message 29: by Laura (new)

Laura | 44 comments I think I'll be reading The Poisonwood Bible for this category. I debating on using this title for this category, or for Oprah's Book Club category.


message 30: by Eleanor (new)

Eleanor | 39 comments Last year I read The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard Morais, which could work for this. It starts in India, with a restaurant family in Mumbai who then moves to a small town in France where they open an Indian restaurant across from a French restaurant. It's a clash of cultures as well as a look at the restaurant culture...


message 31: by Elke (new)

Elke Sisco | 33 comments Laura wrote: "I think I'll be reading The Poisonwood Bible for this category. I debating on using this title for this category, or for Oprah's Book Club category."

If I read that, I would check off both categories. I know most of you go with a different book for each category, but I'm looking for the most "book for my buck" so to speak, because I will likely not have enough time to read 41 books. (If I do, hooray!)


message 32: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) One idea is to read a book from a subculture. Like if you are heterosexual, read a book about gay life. Are you Catholic, read a book about atheists.


message 33: by Sara (new)

Sara | 1508 comments Kirsten *Dogs Welcome - People Tolerated" wrote: "One idea is to read a book from a subculture. Like if you are heterosexual, read a book about gay life. Are you Catholic, read a book about atheists."

That's a really interesting twist on the prompt! I'm not sure I'm brave enough (although maybe that's a sign that I should be!). Really cool idea :)


message 34: by Eleanor (new)

Eleanor | 39 comments Amanda wrote: "I've been looking forward to reading about how the Navajo were such an important part of WWII and will read Code Talker for this one."

Just picked this up at the library and am thinking about using this one, also. (Since I read books/watch movies/visit museum exhibits about different cultures quite a bit, this one has been a challenge for me...but I never even heard about the Navajo code talkers until a year or two ago, and then only a brief snippet, so I think it will be fun!)


message 35: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) I think I'm really going for this one. I just started a book called Modern Romance. It's by a comedian, a celebrity, but it's also about dating in today's world so it's about a culture I'm unfamiliar with... choices, choices, choices.


message 36: by Juanita (new)

Juanita (juanitav) | 723 comments Kirsten *Dogs Welcome - People Tolerated" wrote: "I think I'm really going for this one. I just started a book called Modern Romance. It's by a comedian, a celebrity, but it's also about dating in today's world so it's about a cult..."

I bought that book this weekend! Planning to use it for "book by a comedian." I'm totally interested in your thoughts as you read it as I'm a few weeks away from starting it.


message 37: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) I am really enjoying it, Juanita! I probably would never have checked it out from my library's Overdrive site if it wasn't part of the Goodreads Choice Awards challenge, which I'm also doing.

It is very funny. But it is also very interesting and edifying. He partnered with a sociologist and went around the country (and the world) doing focus groups about marriage, and dating, and how modern changes have altered it.

I highly recommend it. I'm going to put it down as "book written by a comedian" since I thought that prompt would be hard for me.


message 39: by CarleyB (new)

CarleyB | 35 comments Thanks for all of the awesome suggestions everyone.

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse Siddhartha
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides Middlesex
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho The Alchemist
Persepolis The Story of a Childhood (Persepolis, #1-2) by Marjane Satrapi Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood


message 40: by Elke (new)

Elke Sisco | 33 comments I've never been to Jamaica, and I had no idea there was an assassination attempt on Bob Marley, so this Rolling Stone review of 'A Brief History of Seven Killings' sounds great.
Extra points for being the Booker prize winner.


message 41: by Juanita (new)

Juanita (juanitav) | 723 comments Elke wrote: "I've never been to Jamaica, and I had no idea there was an assassination attempt on Bob Marley, so this Rolling Stone review of 'A Brief History of Seven Killings' sounds great.
Extra points for b..."


I read that article too. I agree. Sounds really interesting.


message 42: by Patty (new)

Patty Rose (pattyrose31) | 18 comments I went completely different and read The Sword of Summer The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #1) by Rick Riordan by Rick Riordan. I loved the Percy series and didn't know much about Norse mythology. I had to keep looking at the glossary to figure out the connections! Riordan never disappoints!


message 43: by Lara (last edited Jan 10, 2016 04:58PM) (new)

Lara Willard (veritylane) CarleyB wrote: "Thanks for all of the awesome suggestions everyone.

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse Siddhartha


I read Siddhartha in high school. I don't remember if I loved it or not, but I remember that it was really thought-provoking!
Persepolis is one of my favorite graphic novels. It's so good, and the black & white illustrations were a poignant stylistic choice.

I'll be reading A Thousand Splendid Suns, by the author of The Kite Runner. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini


message 44: by Susanchitter (new)

Susanchitter | 3 comments Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar puts you in the middle of Bombay India.


message 45: by Tara (new)

Tara Bates | 1008 comments I much preferred a thousand splendid suns to the kite runner. Although I didn't love either, I liked the story better and found the characters more likeable and relatable.


message 46: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) Tara wrote: "I much preferred a thousand splendid suns to the kite runner. Although I didn't love either, I liked the story better and found the characters more likeable and relatable."

I'm glad I'm not the only one. I thought it was much better.


message 47: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) I read The Sound of Glass by Karen White for this prompt. As a lifelong Pacific Northwesterner, I am completely unfamiliar with the culture of the Deep South.


message 48: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte Weber | 264 comments It didn't occur to me until reading through a lot of these suggestions that I can use The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. It's been sitting on my shelf for years but I've never gotten around to reading it.


message 49: by Cheri (new)

Cheri (jovali2) | 242 comments I'm considering two very different ones:

The first is Talking Hands: What Sign Language Reveals about the Mind by Margalit Fox. It's about a bedouin community in Israel where a high percentage of the population is deaf. I read Fox's other book, The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code, which was so good I'll read anything else she writes.

The second was recommended by someone in another group: China in Ten Words. This is how the Goodreads blurb begins: "From one of China’s most acclaimed writers, his first work of nonfiction to appear in English: a unique, intimate look at the Chinese experience over the last several decades, told through personal stories and astute analysis that sharply illuminate the country’s meteoric economic and social transformation."


message 50: by Roxanne (new)

Roxanne  (rkmorita) | 41 comments Wow Cheri, I added the sign language book to my read list & may add it to my book challenge list somewhere. I have several people in my family that is hearing impaired, it may even make my "Christmas list". Thank you for mentioning it.


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